On a recent trip to Portugal, I took a little journey back in time……once outside of the two principal cities, Lisbon and Porto, one is transported back about 15-20 years. The pace definitely slows, I was charmed to see a shepherd complete with flat cap, enormous Portuguese Sheepdog (Cao da Serra da Estrela) and, of course, a flock of not-so-bright-white, not-so-fluﬀy sheep all ambling along seemingly with little purpose other than whiling away the hours on the side of a fairly busy road. I could imagine this old chap – who actually did not appear that old – had been grazing his sheep here long before the road cut through, probably his father and his father before him had done so as well.
These little snippets into an almost-lost way of European life always bring a smile to my face. Maybe I’m just old enough to remember the Portugal of my childhood which was populated with such characters, or maybe the thought that this way of life still prevails in little pockets around Europe brings me joy because it shows we have not yet completely lost touch with our roots.
How ironic, then, that the same road where I had just been transported back to old-time pastoral pleasures would eventually transport me back into Lisbon and the Web Summit.
Lisbon in the last few years has developed quite the reputation as the “Startup Think Tank” of Europe with new business and entrepreneurs by the dozen making the pilgrimage to attend one of the city’s incubator programmes. As expected, many of these new companies are focused on technology and how to do more at a faster pace, but many are also service industry based.
The Portuguese are quite the most hospitable bunch – they are extremely proud and love to entertain strangers. So, it makes complete sense that they are developing new commerce to help simplify and add pleasure to day-to-day lives.
The Web Summit was, for me, a fascinating experience with pavilion after pavilion and acres of convention space devoted to new ideas. I particularly liked the company oﬀering to fast-track, last-minute forgotten items to passengers about to enter the no man’s lands of airport security. Or another which would check that your maid had fed the dog whilst you were out. There were also many, many other more technically exciting and advanced concepts – as you would imagine.
My point in all of this being that the Web Summit is the Olympic Games of the techy world and the organizers have chosen to hold it in Lisbon again this year.
So, a wonderful country, just as diverse as it can be, with something for everybody from past to future, technology to history – it’s all here to be enjoyed. Whatever it is that lights your fire and brings you here it can all be enhanced by a wonderful glass of Portuguese wine or Port and a hearty local dish.